Women Get a Mammogram Women Get a Mammogram
National Cancer Institute

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast. A mammogram along with a breast exam by your doctor or nurse can find breast cancer at an early stage when it can best be treated. A mammogram does not cause cancer. Because the amount of radiation used is very low, the risk of any harm is extremely small.

What happens during a mammogram?

A mammogram is a simple test. When you go for a mammogram, the technician taking the picture will place your breast between two X-ray panels. The panels will push your breast between them to get a clear picture. You may feel a little bit of discomfort but each X-ray takes less than 1 minute.

Who should get one?

Women in their 40s and older should get a mammogram every 1 to 2 years. A woman’s chance of getting breast cancer is greater as she ages.

Why should I have one?

Mammograms can save your life by finding breast cancer early. A mammogram can show cancer that is too small for you or your doctor to feel. When breast cancer is found early, you have more treatment options.

“Early detection will give you more treatment options and certainly a better chance to survive.”
–Robin Chin, breast cancer survivor

How will I pay?

Not just once, but for a lifetime. Mammograms can save lives.

How do I get a mammogram?

Ask your doctor today about a referral.
If you have Medicare, it pays for most of the cost of your mammogram once every 12 months.
Check with your insurance plan about costs and copayments.
Make an appointment with a mammography center approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Your doctor or nurse can help you find one.
When you go for your mammogram, do not wear lotions, powders, perfumes, or deodorant. They can cause shadows on the X-ray picture.


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